Harbaugh was sold on Tucker’s ability watching his first kick in spring

January 31, 2013 | WNST Staff

HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH

(opening statement) “Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out. We have a tradition here in Baltimore, Joe Plantania always asks the first question and he made it so here we go.”

 

(on how his coaching style has changed since his first year as a head coach) ”I think the first time you’re new at everything so you kind of learn the job. We’ve done that over the course of five years. I really don’t think it’s changed that much in all honesty. I pretty much think it’s the same as it was early on when I was an assistant. You always put the players first. If you’re a teacher, you put the students first. But you also have a process for things that you believe in and ways of doing things that you stand by. So that’s what you try to do. Guys want to know the way. There’s a vision that you have for them. We painted that vision for them right out of the gate and you keep building on it. The key word, and I shared this word with you yesterday, the key word is build. You build that. You build trust, you build relationships, and it takes time to do that. We’ve been able to do that over the course of five years.”

 

(on how being a special teams coach in Philadelphia prepared him for his current role as head coach) “In the Philadelphia days, we were there together, I saw you in your fur coat before every game. Your legendary fur coat. Special teams is a great place to start as a coach. It’s a great place to be. I had an opportunity to work with every single player on the team. Players are different. Quarterbacks are different than defensive linemen. Defensive backs are different than offensive linemen. You do have an opportunity to work with all those different diverse groups every single day, working on football and meetings and all those different things, which is a great training ground for the job that I’m doing right now. So it’s been a big plus but Philadelphia was a tremendous organization, great people, great head coach, first class media without question, tough talk radio. That was good too. You get a little work with the media, it was a good training ground with the media too. That’s a pretty important part of this job too. It was just a great experience.”

 

(on the decision to change the offensive coordinator) “You’re always trying to build. It goes back to that word. You’re trying to become as good as you can be. We had built something over the course of a long period of time and we were where we were and I think it became kind of obvious and apparent that we needed to shake things up a little bit and head down a little bit of a different road to get where we need to go. It’s not reflective of a job that anyone was or was not doing. Everyone was doing their best. Everybody was doing a great job. We just needed to change the chemistry and the dynamic and we did that and it worked out for us.”

 

(on practicing outside on a baseball field in the elements) “You know I think Tulane has done a remarkable job. The people at Tulane – it has really been incredible what they’ve done there. They’re building a new stadium, and on campus 30,000 seat stadium. It’s going to be first class; it’s going to be beautiful. The people are so nice, so professional. Everything has been great at Tulane. The facility is under construction right now so that’s a little bit tough. It’s put us on the baseball field. We’re going to work some things out today to try to accomplish what we need to accomplish over the course of the week and we’re working that schedule out right now. We just have to see how that plays out. We’re working on that.”

 

(on working with owner Steve Bisciotti) “When you’re with him one-on-one, he’s not such a quiet guy. He’s a great personality. He’s a very strong guy. He’s a very smart man. He’s involved in really almost everything we do. He’s not involved in the day-to-day football stuff, but he has his observations on football as well. Definitely involved in all the things we do with the cap. All the things we do throughout the draft. He’s got a hand in what we’re doing. He’s the guy that establishes the vision for the organization, and I think Steve deserves a lot of credit. He’s not a guy that wants the limelight is what you’re talking about. He’s not a guy that wants to be out front banging his chest. He’s a humble man too. So he’s just a great role model for all of us.”
(on his relationship with assistant special teams coach Chris Hewitt) “Chris Hewitt is working with our special teams now. We brought him in from Rutgers where he spent a lot of time over there as an assistant coach. He played at the University of Cincinnati, played in the National Football League. Tremendous family man. He’s a guy that I have always personally admired and respected even in his playing days as being a really mature guy. I was a 30 year old coach at Cincinnati and Chris came in as a 17 year old freshman and started for us right away. He ended up being second in the nation in kickoff returns right out of the gate, so that will bond a coach and a player really fast. We’ve just had a great friendship all these years and I think Chris is one of the great young coaches in this league. He has been a huge addition to our staff, he’s made us better. I think the sky is the limit for Chris’ career.”

 

(on Joe Flacco’s contract negotiations) “It really hasn’t been a challenge. It’s been amazingly non-challenging. I think that’s a credit to Joe (Flacco) first of all. Joe doesn’t worry about that stuff. It’s not something that matters to him. He’s not a guy that’s all wrapped up in that. I think he feels that it’s going to work out, you do all you’re talking on the field. It’s about football. He figured that he’ll go out there and take care of business this year, lead the team, play as well as he could play and see what happens. That’s kind of his approach to things. It’s also a credit to this organization. Steve (Bisciotti) and Ozzie (Newsome) didn’t get worked up about it either. You’d love to have your quarterback signed up. There were some great negotiations, some very generous offers back and forth and those kind of things. But when it got to that point in time where everybody kind of said, “You know what, it’s about football right now. Let’s have the best season we can have. We’ll revisit after the season.’ That, as a coach, I felt pretty good about it. We really haven’t talked about it since.”

 

(on the expression ‘grind the meat and rattle the mollers’) “That’s Bo. That’s straight Jerry Hanlon, Bo Schembechler, Michigan, Midwest, Big 10, grey skies football. That goes back to the roots. When Michigan would be ahead Bo would get on the headphones with Jerry and say, ‘It’s time to grind some meat’. That means it’s time to run the ball, four minute offense. They’d run an off tackle play. Rattle the molars, that’s coming off the ball. That’s trench warfare for football upfront. That’s football.”

 

(on kicker Justin Tucker) “Justin Tucker, Jerry Rosburg did a great job of finding Justin Tucker. I mean, you find the guy at the University of Texas but he wasn’t a highly ranked kicker. He wasn’t one of the top guys coming out on all the pre-rankings and those kind of things. Jerry did a tremendous job of evaluating Justin. He saw talent; he saw a gifted guy, went down there and worked him out, loved his personality. He felt like with a few adjustments technique wise he could become really consistent. The first time I liked him was the very first kick. Standing behind him, hearing the ball come off his foot, and seeing how straight it tracked. You could tell that he’s just a really talented guy. When we finally decided to make him the kicker, it was really right at the end. Billy Cundiff and he had a really great battle. Both those guys kicked incredibly well. We just felt like at the end, kind of a gut decision, that Tuck would be our guy.”

 

(on this being the final day of media availability for the players and whether there are any surprises planned for his press conference with Jim Harbaugh tomorrow) “You know they’ve done a great job with that. I think they’ve done a great job of compartmentalizing. I was worried I was going to mess that word up. They’ve done well with that. They’ve focused on the football. I’m proud of the way that they’ve handled the media as well.  As far as the joint press conference tomorrow, we thought that we would switch uniforms. I would come dressed as Jim, and Jim would come dressed as me. We’ll see if you guys can figure it out.”

 

(on his statement that the two best safety groups are playing in the Super Bowl) “I can’t say I’ve looked at all the safety groups and made a plot. But it would be hard for me to find two groups that are better than these two groups of guys playing together. To me the first and foremost thing is they’re very talented on both sides. I know Ed (Reed) gets some heat for tackling a little bit, but if you watch the way he’s tackling this year, you see the Ed Reed of old. He’s tackling very well. Bernard Pollard is obviously a very physical player. Both of their players are very physical players. They combine that with a great awareness of the backend. They play well together. How many teams do you see both safeties up or both safeties back, and they’re supposed to be working together? You really see that with these two groups.”

 

(on the benefit of having two running backs and whether he thinks that is a lasting trend in the NFL) “I would agree with that. We’re very blessed and we’re lucky to have these guys. Bernard Pierce has just been a guy that has lit it up for us this year. We liked him a lot, but I don’t think we thought he’d be this good of a player. The two styles contrast perfectly. They’re different kinds of running backs between Ray (Rice) and Bernard, so that helps us a lot too. I don’t know how one running back could do it, especially if you’re going to run the ball the way we’re going to run the ball. I don’t think one running back could carry the load or last very long in this league. It gives you a chance to have some longevity with those two guys.”

 

(on Art Modell and his potential Hall of Fame nomination) “The National Football League wouldn’t be the same. Isn’t that the measurement, how much better they made our game and the National Football League? By any measurement it wouldn’t be the same and it wouldn’t be as good as it is right now. He changed football. He changed the way that it was perceived. He helped make it the popular game that it is today. He had a vision that very few people had in his time. The minute you got to know Art, we really became such good friends because he wanted to be your friend. He wanted to get close to you and your family, my wife and my daughter. Pat Modell, Pat Modell drove Art. Pat was the driving force I think in that partnership. But they became great friends with Joe with Ray with all our players. And then Steve Bisciotti is that same type of person. And Rene Bisciotti, they have the same type of partnership that they had. I would hope at this point after what we’ve been through with Art and Pat in this last year. What it’s meant to our team, the focus that it’s put on our success and what they’ve done. I hope people would find it in their hearts to do the right thing and vote Art Modell into the hall of fame. There’s no question he belongs there, there’s no question he’s going to be in the hall of fame. Why wait? Let’s just do it right now. Let’s do the right thing.”

 

(on what advice he has taken from Steve Bisciotti) “Any advice, there’s so much advice, but the one thing that just always, I think about every single day, is the way he talks about how you approach a day. His thought on that, he received that from a mentor at some point down the road. He said basically, ‘approach every day at work like it’s your first day at work. With that same kind of enthusiasm. Approach every day with your family like it may be your last with your family. If you do that every single day, you’re going to do okay.’ That’s pretty good advice.”

 

(on his experience as a graduate assistant at Michigan) “Well like any young coach you think you know everything and you find out real quickly that you know nothing. As you grow as a coach and you kind of go down the road, you realize you know less than that. It was a great experience being with my dad every single day. Driving to work, driving home from work, kind of seeing the frustrations as a head coach.  I was in charge of the cards and the computers and kind of doing all the things that young coaches do, you learn from the bottom up, just like Jim did when he went to Oakland. Having a chance to see my dad as the head coach and wanting so badly for him to be successful in that role, I saw some of the things that he struggled with and I think having that now in the memory banks has been a positive thing.”

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